A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled into an XI from across Europe’s top seven leagues. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
The final TOTW before Christmas, as leagues have reached their halfway point (at least in terms of months) as most leagues have almost reached the halfway point in their seasons, and the battles across the table have shaped up nicely. While there have been a few shocks (here’s looking at you RB Leipzig and Nice) it has mostly been the expected contenders battling it out near the top of the tables. The young players that have made an impression though have made quite an impression, and have done well. Here is the 15th edition of our Team of the Week for the season!
Defence: Jordan Pickford makes his second appearance in the ToTW after yet another fine performance in goal for Sunderland during their home win against Watford. The win was crucial as it meant that Sunderland have managed to lift themselves off the bottom of the league and are now just a point behind Crystal Palace who are above the drop zone. Kudos to Pickford, who hasn’t had an easy job most of the time, but has maintained his high performance levels for the Moyesiah.
In defence we firstly have Bernardo from RB Leipzig. The newly promoted side returned to winning ways with an efficient 2-0 win against Hertha. While bernardo did play a good role going forward, it was his defensive solidity that was key for Leipzig. 5 tackles and 6 interceptions are big numbers, and crucial for a clean sheet.
In central defence we firstly have Caglar Soyuncu. The Turk did well in Freiburg’s creditable draw away at Schalke, with a very impressive performance at the back. 9 clearances, 6 interceptions, and 3 tackles are all signs of a strong performance. Retaining his place in the side is Daniele Rugani. The Old Lady completed a perfect 2016 at the Juventus stadium in style against Roma, with Higuain scoring the winner. Rugani has grabbed the opportunity he’s been given with both hands. The youngster was a rock at the back, and was arguably the most important factor for Juventus who kept a clean sheet.
Continuing with the Serie A theme, we have a first timer for our ToTW in the form of Samir was Udinese, who did a splendid job in the 2-0 win against Crotone.
Midfield: Starting off the midfield with perhaps the most impactful young midfielder, we have Jorginho. The youngster from Arouca scored a hattrick and was virtually unplayable, as his 3 shots got him 3 goals.
On the other wing we have Raheem Sterling. The young winger made it into the team after a long absence in midweek as City snapped their winless run with a 2-0 win over Watford. His performance over the weekend was even more impressive, as he got a near post winner against Petr Cech to cap a meorable and encouraging comeback for Manchester City against fellow title rivals Arsenal.
In the middle of the park we have 2 more men that have helped stop winless streaks. The under pressure Diego Simeone was given some relief after a wonder strike by Saul Niguez got them a win after 3 without one. Similarly, Tottenham too were on a bit of a rotten streak, with defeats to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United denting Spurs’ early unbeaten run the the gains arising from that. Just like them, Dele Alli too has been in a bit of a funk of late. The youngster seemed to be more focused on achieving nutmegs than goals. He broke the streak with a smart finish from a cross and opened the scoring in a crucial win for Spurs against a dogged Burnley side.
Strikers: Liverpool have been hamstrung in the absence of Coutinho, with Roberto Firmino in particular missing his compatriot, and seeing his form suffer. Luckily for Scousers, the Brazilian’s contributions have been partially compensated for by Divock Origi. His strike in midweek made it 5 goals in 5 games for him, and that is quite an achievement for a player that many may consider third choice behind the likes of Coutinho and Sturridge.
Alongside him is another Simeone who had a good week. While his team lost 3-4 at home in a thriller to Palermo, Giovani Simeone has every right to be a little miffed with his side’s defending. Ivan Juris will be kicking his team after they threw away a 3-1 lead in the second half. Simeone of course, scored twice, and assisted another, playing a part in all 3 of Genoa’s goals.